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AT 2017: Day 93, Port Clinton to Eckville Shelter

We're gonna romp and stomp till midnight

Hike with Gravity

It seemed like the right thing to do.

As we set off out of Port Clinton, we only had enough food to get us through today. We decided last night to not go to Hamburg to resupply, perhaps mostly because we didn’t want to deal with hiring a shuttle to take us.

Hey, the trail provides, right?

Weather Partly sunny and warm
Trail Conditions Long sections alternating between difficult and rocky with flat and easy
Today's Miles 15.0 miles
Trip Miles 1,232.6 miles

No restaurant in town was open for breakfast, so we ate some of our trail food. Now, except for lunch and trail snacks for today, we were completely out of food.

We left the hotel at 7:30. As expected in a small town, there wasn’t much going on as we walked back to the trail. I saw a woman walking her dog and that was about it.

The trail continued at the end of a dead-end street. Then for another half mile it followed what appeared to be an old road. The Schuykill River was flowing to our right.

After crossing a road, the trail began a long climb. Fortunately, this wasn't nearly as steep as the descent into Port Clinton was yesterday.

For much of the next four miles, the trail did its best to live up to its Rocksylvania reputation.

That’s when it happened again. I sprained my right ankle. And this time it was painful.

I had to sit down for a couple minutes, catch my breath, and take a couple ibuprofen before I could continue walking.

Soon, however, the trail did provide. It smoothed out right when I needed it to.

At about lunch time I reached Pulpit Rock, a ledge that provided an expansive view to the east.

Near here was an observatory owned by the Lehigh Valley Amateur Astronomical Society. It’s a members-only facility, but they don’t mind hikers hanging out there.

I didn’t stop, but just as I was leaving Pulpit Rock, Stick, Dory and Splat saw me. They had been napping near the observatory.

It was no surprise that the trail was rocky again, but before long, it was surprising. It got smooth and easy again, and stayed that way.

On this section I passed by a large crew of young people in bright orange t-shirts. They were apparently training for wilderness rescue, but mostly they were just standing around waiting for their leaders to tell them what to do.

For much of the way the unexpectedly-easy trail was a dirt road. It was just what the doctor ordered because I was still somewhat gimpy.

Because of my ankle I decided to skip a stop at The Pinnacle, which was said to be another outstanding view spot.

For the last mile or so the trail left the gravel road. I was grateful to find it remained mostly flat and smooth.

When I arrived at the road that led to Eckville Shelter, I missed the sign pointing the direction to it. A day hiker arrived from the other direction at that time and his presence was just enough of a distraction for me miss the sign.

I thought for sure this was the right road, but I wasn’t sure which direction to go. I took a chance and turned right, which soon proved to be the right direction when I saw Stick just ahead.

The arrangement for this shelter was unlike most Appalachian Trail shelters. It was really just a shed that was located next to an old farmhouse. The house was occupied by a caretaker, who we soon learned was a grumpy guy who didn’t seem to like hikers.

Along with Stick and a couple other hikers, Dory was here, but Splat wasn’t. Dory was a little concerned for her, especially because she thought Splat had been hiking ahead of her.

Later, when Splat showed up, we learned she had also missed the sign to the shelter. In her case, though, she had walked about a mile past the road before realizing her mistake.

Early in Stick’s hike he had struck up a friendship with a hiker named Dapper Dan, who lives in this part of Pennsylvania. Dapper Dan was now well ahead of us on the trail, but he told Stick that when Stick reached this area Dan would arrange for some trail magic his fiancée, Bekka.

While I set up my tent in the tenting area across the road from the shelter and caretaker’s house, Stick called Bekka to let her know we had arrived at the shelter.

It was now just after 5 p.m. Bekka said she was on her way.

After waiting more than an hour, Stick texted Bekka to check on her and found out her dog was sick, but as soon as she got the dog to the vet she would come to pick us up.

In the meantime, Dory, Splat, and two other hikers called a cab and went into Hamburg. This annoyed the caretaker, which made him grumpier than before.

One of the things that apparently sets him off is when hikers bring back pizza and groceries, then leave the boxes and packaging there. He complained to Stick and me that he has to pay for the garbage collection, and doesn’t want to handle trash left by hikers.

We made note of this as we waited for Bekka.

And we waited.

We began to worry she would never show up. This was a problem because we had no food left. We had to resupply tonight, or we would have to call an expensive cab in the morning.

Bekka finally showed up at 9:30 p.m., just as it was getting dark.

For the rest of the evening, I witnessed something I had never seen since I first met Stick. He was unable to utter more than a few words at a time.

The reason for his silence was because Bekka talked non-stop. Stick didn't stand a chance.

In between learning all about Bekka’s job and her relationship with Dapper Dan and her new car and her dog, we shopped at Walmart and ate a quick, very late dinner at McDonalds.

We arrived back at the shelter at close to midnight.

Hiker midnight is usually 9 p.m. or when it gets dark. That’s not the midnight I’m talking about. We got back at the real midnight, 12:00 a.m.

I don’t wish to seem ungrateful. It was very kind of Bekka help us out, especially when she was worried about her dog. Still, I didn’t count on this being such a difficult, exhausting, and long day.

Tell automatic Slim
To tell razor toting Jim
To tell butcher knife toting Annie
To tell fast-talking Fanny
We're gonna pitch a ball
Down to the union hall
We're gonna romp and stomp till midnight
We're gonna fuss and fight till daylight

We're gonna pitch a wang dang doodle all night long
All night long
All night long
All night long
All night long
We're gonna pitch a wang dang doodle all night long


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine." ref.